clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Working at The Plaza Is ‘Hell’ for Women, Employees Say

Lawsuit accuses The Plaza Hotel of condoning repeated sexual assault

Photo by George De Sota/Getty Images
Melissa McCart is the editor for Eater New York.

Women on staff at The Plaza Hotel have allegedly endured creepy comments, unwarranted groping, and “repugnant remarks” from coworkers, the Post reports. When they tell management, they say they are ignored and sometimes shamed, according to court docs filed by six past and current women staffers.

“While patrons enjoy the iconic culture of The Plaza, many of its female employees are forced to endure a culture of a different type​ ​—​ ​rape culture,” reads the lawsuit, which is asking for unspecified damages. It’s a 50-page filing that outlines incidents in which male staffers are suggestive with pens, cucumbers, and bananas; brag about sexual conquests; and say things to female colleagues like “I want to take you to the back and f–k the s–t out of you.”

“It’s hell,” current employee Dana Lewis told the Post. She chronicles that she has been repeatedly harassed by general manager Christian Floren, who allegedly followed her into a coat closet, grabbing and kissing her several times in a day. “After she rebuffed each advance, the married Floren purportedly started crying and said ‘I don’t understand why you don’t want me.’”

Even union delegates have been in on the behavior, with server Syed Islam saying to employee Crystal Washington, “I can tell that you had sex last night.” After Washington complained about this incident and others, she was placed on leave.

Lewis was told in another exchange by a female manager to button up her shirt.

A spokesperson for The Plaza Hotel told the Post, “Any attempt at harassment or discrimination toward our colleagues and guests has not and never will be tolerated. We take all claims of harassment or discrimination seriously, take appropriate remedial action where warranted, and do not retaliate against any staff member who raises a claim of harassment or discrimination in good faith.”

Fairmont Hotels has managed The Plaza since 1999, while the owners have brawled for years, including a fight last year between majority owners India’s Sahara Group and the 25 percent shareholder Saudi Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal (Kingdom Holdings). The conflict was over the long-shuttered Oak Room and Oak Bar, that had been a destination since 1907 — until it closed in 2011.

“Of the three tycoons who hold the keys to the Oak Room and Oak Bar,” The Post’s Steve Cuozzo wrote at the time, “one spent most of the past two years behind bars and the other two narrowly escaped their own prison terms.”

“Few who pass through the Plaza’s grand Fifth Avenue entrance,” he wrote, “know of the sleaze behind the gilded facade.”

Now-President Donald Trump used to own the property, starting when Westin sold it to him in 1988 for $390 million. A bankruptcy plan was approved for the property in 1992, and the sale had begun when it was sold to Al-Waleed in 1995, who, with others, assumed the debt.